By Ellen Huggins
Before you write anything, as a writer, you feel a pressure for it to go beyond you. That something that you say will be very profound, that it’s going to make waves. That there’s going to be something that comes from it that will hit in a certain radius around you like a sonic boom, blasting their own thoughts into the background to make room for yours.
It’s easy to forget that other people have their own lives, that your writing can only reach a few, for a second, if that. It’s hard to remember that life itself is so complex that you’re never going to be able to capture it in a poem, or an essay, or a song. You can try? As if that’s consolation. I wish it were that easy to slice off a little bit of the smoke all around us and put it into a bottle, then ship it around the world so everyone can see what you’re experiencing. But isn’t that the point of writing? Isn’t that why it’s so hard sometimes? Why your words can come out so constipated, so much like hard knocks on a hollow floor. It’s like trying to make Venus out of popcorn kernels. When you don’t feel like writing, it can feel like the most monotonous and hard job in the world. How do you capture a moment? How do you make your reader understand you? Be there with you?
How can you ever make another person relate to the way that you feel about your little brother, when they’ve never had a single conversation? Maybe that’s what makes writers so “brooding,” so “troubled,” because we’re constantly trying to make other people understand us.
Not only to understand us, but to get us. To just know why we do things, to make us feel like more whole people. That’s the whole point of every song, poem or painting: to let people into your state of mind.
It makes you wonder why we want them there at all. What is it about getting into everyone else’s moments, and letting them into ours, that is so hypnotic and satisfying?
I think that we’re so scared of being alone that the fact we’re all by ourselves in our own heads scares us. It’s frightening to think you’re the only one that’s ever going to know you. No one’s flying co pilot, it’s all you, on a solo mission to nowhere. And writing is the captain’s log, that at the end of each day you shoot out of your vessel, into the vacuum of space.
Ellen Huggins is a member of Lighthouse’s Young Authors Collective and a senior at Littleton High School. She plans to study creative writing at the University of Iowa in fall 2017.